24 Aug2007


If your house/apartment was burning down, and you made sure that all humans and pets were all out of harm’s way, you managed to grab most of your jewelry and family photo albums and saved the laptop and on your way out of the kitchen back door, you had a chance to grab JUST ONE of your Filipino cookbooks, which one would you choose? That is a silly way of asking which Filipino cookbook do you cherish the most? Is it one filled with classic recipes? Regional favorites from your home province? A book filled with trivia or history? Is it locally published or one from abroad? I have been to several bookstores and have carefully perused their selection of Filipino cookbooks, and for a nation with nearly 90 million citizens, I am almost always MORTIFIED by the quality and lack of Pinoy cookbook choices. While we have more than 25 Filipino cook/food books/pamphlets in our home, only a handfull or two would hold a candle up to the 400+ other cookbooks I have on my shelves…

I have not decided to write a cookbook/foodbook, yet. The task is so daunting and the inevitable casualty will be the number of entries to this blog, so let’s just say I am vascillating and simply toying with the idea for now. And I would really appreciate your varied opinions on Filipino cookbooks currently out in the market… Are they too basic? Too complicated? Recipes well written, or poorly written? Boring, unappetizing, brilliant, delicious? I figured I would pose this question at the end of the work week, and I would be grateful for any thoughts you are willing to share on this issue… Many thanks in advance and have a great weekend!!!



  1. wysgal says:

    I didn’t bother bringing any cookbooks with me to the US (there’s always the internet, your blog especially, I figured) because my shelves will be filled with overpriced textbooks anyway.

    My general opinion on local cookbooks is that they’re not very well written. Vague, unexciting, uninspiring. I love the chatty “prose” in recipes by mainstream celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver — I actually read their cookbooks for leisure even when I’m not exactly planning for a meal.

    As an added point … because local publishers they can’t achieve economies of scale in the Philippines you’re left with books printed on newsprint without any decent photos (maybe just some bad sketches) for guidance. I actually prefer local magazines (i.e. Yummy, Food) over cookbooks … they’re generally more relevant, have better photos, and have useful shopping tips.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 8:18 am


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  3. peterb says:

    Hey, i have 4 of those in your stack…hehe

    I still buy cookbooks and food magazines, but most of the time, i just search online. What’s important for me are the reviews of the people who have actually tried cooking the dish.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 8:35 am

  4. Ted says:

    I actually have the same book “Let’s cook with Nora” as pictured. Unfortunately, i’ve been using my book since 1985 and now the pages are mangled and some are now missing ;-) The book itself does not have pictures in it except for sketches and drawings, and the paper is of the 3rd rate newsprint variety. But i really like it’s content and the measurements are correct. Hopefully it would come out with a hardbound cover on it’s *nth edition so that i can replace mine ;-)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 8:40 am

  5. ykmd says:

    Ooooh, how I’d love to get my hands on that bottom book! Is it out of print? I’ve asked my mom to buy it for me but she couldn’t find it. I’m one of those who have 7+ Philippine cookbooks. Aside from Memories of Philippine Kitchens, there’s one by Reynaldo Alejandro that has good photos. Oddly enough, it’s his other cookbook (no pix) and the one by Violeta Noriega (because she’s based in the Pacific NW and so has “acceptable substitutes” in her recipes) that I “consult” the most and have my notes scribbled all over them. I like the cookbook by Eufemia Estrada (again, no pix) too. I like the “little” series, just reading the different “regional” versions is interesting. I tend to read versions of a recipe in several cookbooks before deciding on a path to take. I don’t have the Filipino-American Kitchen yet, is it good?

    And I definitely would get your cookbook when you finally write one :) Or even just a collection of your favorite blog posts (with your own photos, of course) which are related to food! That would be great!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 8:50 am

  6. elaine says:

    I choose cookbooks that have good reviews (back of the book and inner flaps…:))but importantly if it has been tried by . I like recipes with a bit of history, trivia or intro before them. Something straightforward, do-able at least. Most Filipino cookbooks, in my opinion, are too basic, a bit unappealing. I would like a pinoy cookbook with some pictures presented simply or maybe realistically for any regular homecook to duplicate. Still wishin’ you’ll go for the book, MM!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 8:57 am

  7. anthony says:

    I would have to say the Adobo book and the Nora Daza book. I personally know one of the authors of the Adobo book, Nancy Lumen. Very special indeed.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:01 am

  8. Tony says:

    I agree with Wysgal. I often read cookery books like a novel, especially Elizabeth David’s. Try her ‘South Wind in the Kitchen’. I read Silver Spoon the same way and even my battered old copy of Robert Carrier. Although I have many cookbooks, including 3 Filipino books, including the de Guzman one in your photo, I am now very selective about what more I buy. After all, as well as your blog there are many others, not so good of course, but one favourite is Mrs. Glaze’s Pommes d’Amour(being a francophile}. Also there is the whole of the Internet waiting for you to enter an ingredient or cooking style to return hundreds of recipes.

    A cookbook by Marketman however would be very well read.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:22 am

  9. CecileJ says:

    When I started cooking “everyday food” as a newly-wed almost twenty years ago, I used Enriqueta David-Perez’s recipes of the Philippines. Her recipes were my “jump-off point”, so to speak, in cooking adobo, sinigang, paksiw na isda, etc., which I never learned to cook when I was single. (But I was an expert in “party food” like lasagna, callos, and chocolate-cherry mousse, etc.) My copy is dog-eared and stained but I plan to pass it on to my daughters when they start their own homes. It is a classic, no frills book but I consider it a gem of a cook book.

    Another favorite food book is (the late) Doreen Fernandez’s and Edilberto Alegre’s “Sarap: Essays on Philippine Food”. Printed on newsprint but with beautiful woodcuts by Manny Baldemor, it is insightful and still so relevant today as it was 20 years ago.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:28 am

  10. bernadette says:

    I have the habit of copying recipes from various recipe books and putting/compiling them in small hardbound notebooks so they can stack up nicely in the kitchen. Then I test them and cross out the bad ones. I do not try out much though :-). I always believe in reading out recipes first and then common sense na lang what and how to make a dish. When my husband gave me my own pc and our internet got amazingly faster (thanks to Smart Bro—plugging,o!) food blogs like yours are enough for me! Although I invested in some Filipiniana recipe books and the most that I read was on the “Coconut book” as published by Bookmark.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:46 am

  11. Yen says:

    Although I don’t really cook (yet!), I hoard recipes for the day I will have to (i.e., when I get married). Most of the time, I’m always just PLANNING to cook.

    Anyway, I stopped buying cookbooks since they never have enough pictures. So I Google recipes when I have to (or do a search here. :-D

    I ALWAYS get a copy of Food Magazine though. I like the features and the recipes that are doable and their pictures. I’ve been getting copies of Yummy magazine recently and this one’s been good also. :-)

    I also prefer local magazines/recipes since I always have a difficult time getting the ingredients from “foreign” recipes.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:55 am

  12. Apicio says:

    It is when something overrreaches and try to be all things to all people when they pityfully fall short of everyone’s expectation. Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a classic because it had a clear vision of its aimed audience. So accordingly, a writer/cook decides early on to which audience he wants to play to, does he want a basic primer for the absolute beginner a la Enriqueta David Perez, a profusely illustrated one to grace somebody’s (usually an absolute non-cook) coffee table (like the heavy and unwieldy tomes of Culinaria), a heavily footnoted one for the cooking historical sleuth or a culinary guide to the perplexed in a new foreign place.

    What I pay attention to and enjoy most about your approach is it is close to that of Cook’s Illustrated, finding the best method to cook favorites: choose a basic, common, classic, traditional dish; locate and choose a most likely successful recipe; try different approaches (or techniques borrowed from other cooking traditions) as to how it can be updated and improved; research and obtain technical clarification to results that seem counter-intuitive.

    Leave the dinner-stopping spectacles to restaurants and caterers. I am sure you do not do this but (it deeply discomfits me) a dinner to which the host cannot even greet guests at the front door or in which he or she is just too busy shuttling between the dining table and the kitchen is an utterly joyless affair.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:10 am

  13. Marketman says:

    Apicio, as usual, you seem to have nailed it on the head. I am not seeking fancy, I am seeking solid basics, possibly with a twist that improves, rather than dilutes. Arrrghhh, I am so agonizing over this. Maybe I will just write a draft and bind it and continuously improve it until I get over the fear of publishing…

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:15 am

  14. Bambi Sy says:

    I grew up on Nora Daza’s Let’s Cook and I also used it as a starting point for my own kitchen when I had my own household to run; my cook also finds it easy to follow. I find it wonderfully basic and the dishes in them tasty. The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are other favorites of mine; I love the photos and the short personal blurbs she writes about each recipe. They are also doable and yummy – just like most of the recipes you post here. Looking forward to your cookbook! :-)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:26 am

  15. titashi says:

    My family owns about 3 filipino cookbooks, 2 of which is by Nora Daza. I never bought myself any cookbook for that matter although the ones we have in the household taught me the basics of cooking when I was younger. And yes, the cookbooks were okey but no nice photos or crisp white pages. I always bought food magazines both local and international and I would cut out the recipes and place them in clear sheets, compiling them in binders. I feel that recipes in magazines are more creative and easier. I also go online for more recipes or for reading pleasure about food.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:27 am

  16. Myra P. says:

    MM, Im surprised that you don’t have a copy of Glenda Baretto’s Flavors of The Philippines. Before Memories of Philippine Kitchens came along, it was my favorite for the way it compiled recipes — by region. The recipes are fairly traditional and the photos are quite nice and bright, except for a touch of stiffness (aka, overstyled). My copy is hardbound, but for some reason, it is now only available paperback. Sayang.

    I noticed The Philippine Cookbook in your pile… Is Nina Daza Puyat one of the authors? Her mom’s Cooking With Nora was my starter cookbook in the US 10 years ago. It served me well and I second the motion that it should be harbound and updated (ex, remove Ajinomoto/msg from the recipes, go generic instead of listing Liberty Milk/Condensada… does the brand still exist?)

    How about a 40th anniversary edition in 2009? :) Hardbound, with photos and personal essays.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:42 am

  17. tinsywinsy says:

    I just bought the adobo cookbook and I think it lacks variety of recipes. It seems like the only ingredient that changes is the meat used. I like Cooking With Nora because it gives the basic recipe which I can just add on. My yaya, who is not a cook, was able to improve her cooking as well by using this cookbook (minus the aji no moto it requires for almost all recipes!) because if the simplicity of the recipes.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:43 am

  18. Myra P. says:

    …Her mom’s Let’s Cook with Nora….

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:47 am

  19. tinsywinsy says:

    Hi MM,

    Maybe the cookbook can be simple but have variations of the recipe on the side? and please put lots of pictures and maybe step by step procedures for difficult recipes?

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:56 am

  20. dee bee says:

    like apicio, i like your style of approaching dishes. i’m interested in understanding the techniques involved. if i know the hows and whys, then i can turn one recipe into different dishes with endless variations.

    personally, i like cookbooks with a bit of prose to introduce certain dishes or sections. like wysgal and Tony, sometimes i read cookbooks like i read novels, at leisure, and usually from cover to cover.

    my vote is for a substantial book on traditional filipino dishes, with information on traditional techniques as well as practical modern-day adaptations, focusing on readers who want to get close to the authentic taste… my two cents :)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 11:11 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Myra P., I actually do have Glenda Baretto’s book somewhere in the house, as well as the Hidalgo book that came out last year… I just didn’t manage to locate them all for the photo above… tinsywinsy, yes, along the lines of sinigang, but then there are dozens of variations on the same sour theme… deebee, questioning the logic behind how or why we prepare dishes is what will bring us a better idea of how to appreciate or improve it…

    Aug 24, 2007 | 11:21 am

  22. Teresa says:

    I must say you should do it MM. That is to write your cookbook, most specially went something inside drives you. Set aside some perplexing reason or the lame excuse of poor production quality. All those who wrote our well beloved cookbooks must have gone at one point or another thru a turning point of no return. Wow 400 cookbooks!! I should start counting all that I have stored in 2 cabinets. And while I say to myself “this is the last cookbook you are buying” each time I contently walk out of a bookstore wrapped book in hand. I still find myself purchasing another whether brand new or from some thrift shop. I proudly call it my travel collection. I even have an autographed copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I likewise appreciate the format of Cooks Illustrated. Filipino cookbooks proudly joined my collection and there is definitely room for a book. authored by MM.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 11:21 am

  23. KpKafle says:


    I like you have literally hundreds of cookbooks for the most part I just peruse them and never really use them. I agree with you with Filipino cookbooks I must have 10 of them. Both printed in the Philippines and here in the US. I just bought the Memoris of the Philippine Kitchen from the folks in Cendrillon. This book is high quality but too big and has too much fluff and not enough meat ie recipes. If you would undertake writing a cookbook it must be comprehensive in terms of recipes touching all the provinces of our country. It must not only contain the favorites we all know but also must feel like a discovery of new cuisines from the provinces. Unfortunately, mostly filipinos will buy this book so it must intrigue us with new recipes but also give variations of our favorites. But it must be printed on glossy paper and the photos will sell your cookbook.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 12:26 pm

  24. tulip says:

    I find most local cookbooks boring, too basic and poorly written. Like some of your readers, I like it to be a little novel-like.I am for a basic cookbook but with a depth. It has something to impart more than a run down of list of recipes. Doable techniques with illustration, a little introduction of the dishes..something that will really help the reader. So I guess not so chichi/fancy/cutesy.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 12:37 pm

  25. jb says:

    I really liked the quality of Memories of Philippine Kitchens. I enjoyed the stories and background musings as well as the nice vivid pictures. I was put off by the complexity of some of the recipes. It’s def not for the regular at home cook. You need decent skills, a well-stocked pantry, and lots and lots and lots of time on your hands. What would be nice is something with the same quality (of paper and pictures) but with recipes that are more… approachable (save for a couple of more labor intensive special recipes). I think you’re just the guy to make it happen MM!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 1:03 pm

  26. annette says:

    Okay Mr MM theres this cookbook that Ive been keeping since I was a kid and its my Lola’s cookbook, at kahit na gutay gutay na siya I was able to restore some pages, its the Kusina ni Aling Charing cookbook and its written in pure Tagalog, if you know what I mean Sir, like “isang puswelong harina” or isang butil ng bawang hahaha. There are some recipes which I find very unusual like the Pancit Buko, Lumpiang Buko, Pinangat na Talimusak and many more.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 2:12 pm

  27. nunosapunso says:

    I have recipes of the philippines (which my grandmother had). So it’s kinda dog-eared. I just bought Memories…Both are good…first for the basics and the latter if you want to experiment. But what i sort of miss in most Pinoy cookbooks, is sort of background on Pinoy food culture. I also have a book by Cordero on Culinary Culture of the Phil and I plan to get the Gov-General’s Kitchen in 1800 when I am next there. I also miss special regional recipes – I am sure there must be good chabacano recipes or the spicy fish dish i tasted in the lake of Lanao in Mindanao. The recipes featured in most cookbooks are too Luzon-based and would be great if somebody could research/contribute on these relatively unknown recipes from the south.

    Otherwise I google (The Sassy Lawyer has a good cooking blog). Then the ones that work out well, I print it out and put them in these presentation folders. That way, i don’t have to look at the computer everytime I want to make that dish.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 2:32 pm

  28. DADD-F says:

    Like others said, it depends on the readers. I for one am more into content than the book’s looks. Though, admittedly, great shots help plus all the other extras. The quality of paper, for one, does magic but if you wish to reach a wider readership, you’ll just have to make it more affordable. Newsprint may not be all nice to look at, maybe not even nice to the touch and heck, not kitchen-proof really. But cook/food-books like those where Doreen Fernandez was involved in are such great finds. One of them is that which delves on traditional, slow cooking. Very interesting, very inspiring–and not just to concoct in the kitchen but somehow it makes the Filipino proud to be Filipino. And the book is cheap. There are others, of course.

    I used to be drawn to imported cookbooks. The recipes are somewhat more different from what we’ve been used to and the presentations are really attractive. After having had my fill of them, I started to get curious about Filipino foods. I love Filipino food, I cook well enough but it’s more satisfying learning more about our own. Of course, I have a copy of a Waray cookbook published by UP Tacloban. And I started looking to others. I have the adobo cookbook amongst my increasing number of Filipino cookbooks. Those published by ABS are also good.

    But yes, other editors and writers of Filipino cookbooks should at least try harder at better editing and at initiating more innovative or creative ways of presenting the whole book. If Doreen Fernandez and company can come up with a cook/food-book that is really great despite being printed on newsprint, why can’t they?

    Aug 24, 2007 | 2:38 pm

  29. CecileJ says:

    Apicio, I am a fan!!! You have such wit, wisdom and a wonderful way with words!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 2:41 pm

  30. mila says:

    I have 3 of the books from the photo, but rarely turn to them for inspiration. I tend to stick to Joy of Cooking and the many food blogs like yours or cooking sites when I am stumped on what to make for dinner. What I’d like to see is a well crafted Filipino cookbook, with regional cuisines, if possible on quality paper with beautiful photos, but more importantly, well written prose. Because no matter how lovely the photo, if it’s chockful of errors or bad grammar, it’s a waste of a tree’s life to have it printed.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 2:53 pm

  31. lee says:

    CecileJ is an apicionado.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 3:36 pm

  32. bernadette says:

    si leen-tik sa wit! :-)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 4:32 pm

  33. k says:

    Hi MM,

    Your cookbook can be composed of your posts here, with the beautiful photos and interesting side stories and commentaries. This way, you get to publish a cookbook for us without neglegting your website :)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 5:59 pm

  34. Mangaranon says:

    YKMD – the bottom book is available at Amazon.com!

    Aug 24, 2007 | 6:02 pm

  35. noemi says:

    who needs a cookbook when there is internet. you can find recipes online.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 6:53 pm

  36. suzette says:

    if i were to buy a filipino cookbook, i’d like it to present the top filipino favorites at least…a little history of the dish, the basic recipe, some suggestions to add twist/ variations,tips on how and where to get the ingredients, nutritional content, yield/ servings, what other dishes go well with it and most especially a “natural” photo,not artificially styled,so we wouldn’t be disappointed expecting to get the same look… just a simple, practical and reasonably priced pinoy cookbook for me would be the best .

    Aug 24, 2007 | 9:15 pm

  37. suzette says:

    just wanted to share what i read from our kids’ “did you know that?” book- the first known cookbook was written in Rome,Italy by Marcus Gavius APICIUs in the first century A.D….hmmm, any relations to you mr.apicio by any chance? or could be his reincarnation hahaha :)

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:08 pm

  38. buffy says:

    Hi MM, annette and I have the same really really old cookbook, the Aling Charing one. I always get the giggles when I read the parts where it says “puswelo” or “hanguin” or things like that. Very old school, it is.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 10:40 pm

  39. Jared says:

    Actually Nora Daza’s cookbook has been around for quite some time and could be the leading authority with home cooked Filipino dishes.

    Aug 24, 2007 | 11:00 pm

  40. brenda says:

    I’ve learned cooking with my late Nanay’s cookbook, but I really cannot recall the title, its all written in Tagalog, similar to Aling Charing’s.

    Nowadays, I just log here and pinoycook.net for latest recipes.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 3:37 am

  41. Titanons says:

    If ever you do publish a cookbook, please, please, please make sure that your proofreader is 100 plus percent accurate! What I find most irritating with our cookbooks is that some of the listed ingredients are omitted in the step by step procedures. Or that some steps in the procedure is totally deleted from printing.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 5:46 am

  42. lysandrad says:

    Also learned cooking dishes through “Aling Charing” … so outdated noh! but that book was a great help .. had actually given it away as wedding present bundled with other kitchen stuff then … :-)

    Aug 25, 2007 | 5:55 am

  43. annette says:

    Lysandrad I also had that cookbook “Aling Charing”, old school nga siya pero very useful.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 7:16 am

  44. brenda says:

    * gakadlaw sa comment ni lee *

    Aug 25, 2007 | 7:34 am

  45. Apicio says:

    K’s is a plendid idea too, a compilation of your best posts along the lines of your readers favorites as delineated by the results of your thought provoking surveys. That way you will be appealing to an existing audience who I am sure would want a durable, permanent and portable keepsake of this site and for those whose bookshelves already sag with their collection, perhaps a MarketMan DVD of the text and beautiful photographs or even better, a state-of-the-art multi-media blend of the two.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 8:48 am

  46. Maricel says:

    Yeah, I also agree, a compilation of your best posts with maybe some of the readers comments included would be enough for me. Reading Market Manila posts while relaxing in my bed instead of having to sit up in front of the computer would be great treat.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 10:04 am

  47. Catalina says:

    My ideal cookbook: (1) has lots of pictures (not the fancy, stylized ones); (2) includes a bit of history about the dish (I especially love to read about specific ingredients, prep and cooking techniques, most especially family stories connected to it); (3) deals with classic and traditional stuff in a down-home way. Your posts meet all of the above.

    I think every family should do their own cookbook — a compilation of family recipes and history (like Grace Young’s “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” and “The Breath of a Wok; “Gonzales’s “Cocina Sulipeña,” Tayag’s “Food Tour, Laya’s “Potluck”, and Besa-Dorotan’s “Memories of Philippine Kitchens”).

    I started compiling ours when my son (he was 7 at the time; he’s now 22) asked me to write down recipes of his favorite dishes for the benefit of his future wife and kids. For this purpose he gave me a planner-journal whiere he wrote “RECIPIES (sic) OF MAMA.” Think about strategic planning.

    So please go ahead with your obra maestra, MM. At least do it for The Kid, if not for us your daily readers. And, re Titanons’ comment on accuracy, I volunteer to proof-read your manuscripts. Go for it, MM!

    Aug 25, 2007 | 10:12 am

  48. erleen says:

    Like annette, I also have the same cookbook (Kusina ni Aling Charing) from my lola.

    It may seem dated (the prices of the goods were way too cheap then) but it has the basic filipino recipes. It even details the proper way to cook rice and kill chicken. All in pure tagalog.

    very old school and informative.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 11:09 am

  49. DADD-F says:

    Apicio, you really do have a way of expressing your thoughts.

    Suzette, thanks for the additional info. And yes, I feel the same way about what I would like to find in a cookbook. Nothing too fancy. But just a really useful cookbook that also doubles as a reference for food and culture.

    And like the others, I also have Aling Charing’s. Nora Daza’s is also good but I find Aling Charing’s, with all its humble presentation, the better one.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 11:36 am

  50. lee says:

    DADD-F: another apicionado

    Aug 25, 2007 | 11:48 am

  51. RobKSA says:

    While I don’t own too many cookbooks, I have tons of recipes all over the place. I also have access to hundreds of cook books/magazines in our library. I too like the Cook’s Illustrated magazine, although just a monthly magazine and thin too, I find the reading more informative and the result when I try the recipes more delicious. Of course, I have been doing MM’s recipes as well and have great success with them.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 12:32 pm

  52. Marichu says:

    I have two books by Filipino authors and a compilation of Asian cuisine by a foreigner. What I would want to see is more pictures with every step of the cooking process. If that’s not possible maybe every other step or at least 1)show the ingredients (prepped, cut, chopped, etc), 2) what the dish looks like midway and 3) the finished product. And please do not use foreign ingredients as primary like lemon for calamansi. A note that such substition is fine on the side. Thanks for letting me put in my two cents.

    Aug 25, 2007 | 1:11 pm

  53. miss muffin says:

    I love to collect cookbooks also.I have “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” and “The Filipino- American Kitchen” which I bought at the same time in Amazon. The two Nora Daza cookbooks the Gene Gonzales little cookbooks and his Cocina Sulipena.I think I have eleven from the cookbooks that you presented here.MM, 400+ cookbooks! WOW how I wish I can visit you to see your collection.I want a cookbook wherein the recipe is presented step by step with photos.Sad to say some Filipino cookbooks lack one or the other meaning some have good compilation of recipes but doesn’t have pictures or some have only pictures without good recipes.I hope they can have both.I’m wondering MM if you already have “The Best of Food Magazine” cookbook? I think they already have 3 cookbooks the lattest was their 10th anniversary edition. I always search for new releases of cookbooks in Amazon or in other publication.Did you try Anvil publishing? How I wish I can again have my vacation in the Philippines to have my cookbook shopping spree. For cookbook fanatics try also Dorothy Fereira and Chef Annie Carmona Lim’s cookbooks.I’m still searching for Sylvia Reynoso Galas’ Panasonic cookbook and one cookbook by Reynaldo Alejandro with the word “WOW” on the title which I only read in one magazine.Can anybody help me to find this cookbook for me to add in my collection?I really feel bad also because we are not getting the lattest edition of the Food Magazine and Yummy magazine on time here.MM, if you will decide to write a cookbook,please save one copy for me!!!

    Aug 25, 2007 | 4:17 pm

  54. ykmd says:

    Salamat Mangaranon, it’s just listed there, but not really available (sigh…). I would love to get ANY of Doreen Fernandez’s books, for that matter…

    A cookbook with pictures of “commonly used ingredients” would also be very useful I think. I have “Quick and Easy” cookbooks for different cuisines (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese) and they all have at least 1-2 pages devoted to a list of ingredients with small pictures of each. For Chinese for ex. this would include photos of actual bottles of Hoisin sauce, plum sauce (with brand names plainly visible- I don’t know if permission is needed from the specific manufacturer for this), and pictures of ginger, bok choy, etc. I just look for those particular brands when shopping, instead of standing there gawking at the multitude of choices. Each recipe page also has a small picture of all the ingredients needed so a quick glance tells me what I need to pull out of the pantry.

    And yes, like Titanons says, good proofreading please!

    Aug 25, 2007 | 10:55 pm

  55. Marilyn says:

    MM should you consider writing one, I am sure your readers will be lining up in the bookstore for the release, including myself. One thing I found cooking instructions is that most cookbooks just give you the ingredients and instructions on how to get to the end result, there is not much discussion regarding pitfalls, maybe reminders on what not to do. Most often this will come up only when the cooking demo is live. should you come up with a book and video on the step by step how to will be very helpful. I like you blog because I get information on what worked and what did not and subtle changes in the ingredients and or the procedure the make the recipe a success. Hopefully you end the toying and step up to the plate and start planning, I am sure all the readers will be absolutely delighted, myself included.

    Aug 26, 2007 | 12:27 am

  56. Donna A says:

    Hello MM! Thanks for a great site–makes me both more and less homesick. I never cooked when I was growing up in the Philippines, but came to US and was forced by my biological needs to face the stove. My bible (and of many other colleagues) has been Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad, which I don’t see in your pile. Not a gourmand’s cookbook, just the good old basics and then some. I am far from a gourmet (I will eat anything and relish it) (even the puto-made-from- Bisquick recipe which will surely make you ballistic but works for me!) so what appeals to me will be different from all you serious cooks out there. Thankfully, I first lived in Chicago, a few miles from a Pinoy restaurant so takeout was my friend. I now live in North Dakota (two plane rides from the nearest Pinoy restaurant) so I need cookbooks more than ever. Dorotan’s “Memories…” is an awesome book (I gave them to 12+ friends for Christmas last year). It is not a cookbook though and it should be treated as such (look at the title itself). It is a cultural commentary told by a chef/cook, so of course there are recipes on the side. Aranas’ “Filipino-American Kitchen” is great too. I appreciate her dictum “freshness before authenticity”. She says it upfront, so no complaints about “not like what lola made”. “Filipino Homestyle Dishes” by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco is handsome and handy. My best advice though: if living in the middle of nowhere, have friends who cook your favorite foods from home well! =)

    Aug 26, 2007 | 1:27 am

  57. Johnny says:

    Noemi, that was funny yet true. If you have internet access, why not just google the recipe, right? I mean, some recipes from cookbooks sometimes end up somewhere in the net anyway. However, people still sometimes want to peruse a book instead of stare at a computer screen, whether it’s for leisure or not. MM, I only have four Filipino cookbooks in my shelf so I really can’t make a comprehensive judgement on the issue. I have the sense though that Filipino authors sometimes tend to give you just the main or basic directions and/or ingredients and leave the possibly important details out (was this said in an earlier comment already?). And perhaps this is one reason the dish might not end up as expected. There is some holding back by the authors. Possibly they don’t want to reveal their secret recipes? So I guess what is needed is to force authors to give up their recipes for people to see. Actually, if they do this, it’s a good thing because people will know that it is their recipe. What I’m heading at is maybe there should be some kind of awarding body for cookbook authors much like the James Beard awards (Marketman awards perhaps?). Or is there one now that I don’t know of? That way, authors will have to give out their best to be distinguished. No more holding back! Take the “French Laundry cookbook” for example. It is a very well-tauted book and if you read it, Chef Keller reveals all his recipes and the exact things he does in his restaurant kitchen. Actually, many other chefs have their own restaurant cookbooks too. What’s the best cookbook for cakes? Perhaps the “Cake Bible” by Rose Beranbaum? Every year there are so many cookbooks that get published that old ones eventually get displaced. People may in the end have their own preferred chef, style of cooking, etc. but at least we’ll know which ones are quality cookbooks. My fingers are getting tired of typing so I’ll just stop here. Just some thought. :)

    Aug 26, 2007 | 3:10 am

  58. noemi Dado says:

    I started to cook using “Let’s Cook with Nora”. And from there I just reinvented the dish. The recipe book is simple that even my non-cook helper learned to cook from it.

    Aug 26, 2007 | 8:33 am

  59. MegaMom says:

    And if may add Donna A, not just friends but family who can cook for you! Good to see your post, sis! Finally crawling out of the woodwork, I see. Donna and I started with Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad. We were both living in Chicago then and although lacking in photos and very basic, what we found useful was that it gave substitutions for Pinoy ingredients one would not normally find abroad.

    Maybe your next “baby” can have something similar, and also the reverse, i.e. foreign dishes with the Pinoy touch because the foreign ingredients are difficult to be had, or because that is your twist, your signature. (Kalamansi muffin and countless other MM classics.) This would make it appealing to your fans all around the world.

    Bravo to Apicio for an excellent suggestion: multi-media! (Am an apicionado too, Lee, uunahan na kita. :)) Instead of a dog-eared cookbook in the kitchen, one can have a video demo playing on a laptop! Hehehe, j/k of course, printable recipe page would be far more practical.

    However, I’m sure you would agree a stack of DVDs doesn’t quite have the visual and tactile impact of a stack of tomes. So as Apicio also suggested, offer both options. I would buy both!

    Aug 26, 2007 | 7:08 pm

  60. Apicio says:

    Johnny’s comments about cook/writers holding back or not disclosing the complete recipe never fails to strike a chord with me. To me there are only two kinds of published recipes, tested and untested ones. Ignore the untested ones or at least limit your gaze to its narrative or photographs. I suspect that the real tricky part with tested recipes is identifying which item in the ingredient list is critical, that one which when substituted for completely alters the shape, look and taste of the dish such as replacing chorizo with lapcheung (same rough shape but I beg your pardon, its like comparing apples and orangutans). In the procedure part, there is usually a crucial step that once skipped can cause the construction of the recipe to collapse. I instantly take kindly to cookbooks whose recipes warn you about the level of skill required. After all, baking muffin and making vol-a-vent are as far away in skill requirement as picking the notes of Chopstick from playing the Grande Valse Brilliante on the piano.

    Aug 26, 2007 | 8:44 pm

  61. annamanila says:

    I know I have some books by Doreen Fernandez (Tikim, Lnnghap), an adobo book by Eugene Gonzalez, some of the recipe books resulting from a cook fest by lemme see know …. i am sorry i can’t remember. hmmm, two sets of pinoy meal weekly planners. I don’t see any one of these now … thank you for reminding me.

    First time for me here … wouldn’t have come if i were not researching on A-listed pinoy blogs. This is great. Wanna say more but i got more sites to visit. Will come back.

    Aug 27, 2007 | 12:02 am

  62. gemma says:

    during my growing up years in davao, my mom had this ILONGGO cookbook that contained fool-proof recipes of ilonggo classics. sadly, i could not remember the author’s name(it was published in Iloilo) so my attempts in getting hold of a copy have been unsuccessful. i consider hers to be better than the rest of the filipino classics (e.g. daza, et al). i am looking forward to my copy of Assumption High School Cookbook (newly released) hoping that i would be able to find the same ilonggo dishes (the school has plenty of ilonggos) that I had during my years in the Philippines. The Ilonggo cookbook has been one of my inspirations when I pursued culinary studies in New York. Upon being prodded to do ravioli by my instructor, I could not help comparing the dish to our very own molo (and how much superior the molo is)!

    Aug 27, 2007 | 3:32 am

  63. CecileJ says:

    Lee, apicionado nga ako, may MarketMan-ia pa!

    Aug 28, 2007 | 9:04 am

  64. marlazz says:

    You should look into ‘Memories of Filipino Kitchens’, which I recently discovered and gifted to our hosts when we where travelling. It’s authored by the chef/owner of a Filipino restaurant in NYC. It’s a cookbook but so much more.

    yes, the Nora Daza book is a classic.

    Aug 28, 2007 | 9:37 am

  65. Marketman says:

    marlazz, I did a pre-release review of the book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens, here. I also ate in and wrote about their restaurant, Cendrillon, here. the book is also in the stack photographed above. :)

    Aug 28, 2007 | 10:32 am

  66. Libia Chavez says:

    Have most of the books piled up.Am an avid recipe book collector have tons of it, except for maybe 50 or so titles most I get from sale, garage, used books sale ukay ukay books anywhere I go. I have an Apicius cookbook and a german sausage book where I only understand maybe 2 words i remember from german 10. Very good reading for me are:Slow food, memoirs of a Filipino Kitchen and Felice Sta Maria’s book, (although a friend who is an Ambeth Ocampo fan says the latter it is not reader- friendly;) all of Doreen Fernandez books (Kilawin i particularly like because it says much about what can be found all over the island – but maybe that is more Ed Alegre). I did not see Signature Dishes of the Philippines by Sony Florendo, that too is a good cook book.
    I too read cookbooks as I read novels and travelogues and I do cook those that i find interesting from the reading.

    Many cookbooks in the bookstores in the Philippines are indeed not kitchen tested, you may find such atrocius combination of ingredients as 5 cups coconut milk and 1/2 cup rice for a champorado, my daughter-in-law who is only starting to learn to cook tried it and my 6 year old grandson said: “oh it sort of made me want to vomit after” Or an adobo recipe for 1 chicken and 1 cup vinegar.
    Id like to know where to get a copy of Fishes of the Philippines, ( I had a a yellowed, brittle copy of a monograph printed by the US Wildlife when the Philippines was still a colony ( not to say it no longer is in some ways), which i retrieved from someone’s garbage and photocopied . With the handling, the pages of the original just disintegrated!!

    Too long comment, got carried away. Thanks just recently discovered this blog.

    Best regards

    Sep 18, 2007 | 6:17 pm

  67. dee bee says:

    Currently reading “Thai Food” by David Thompson, an excellent and well-researched book, and can’t help wishing for a version covering Filipino food. This reminded me of this post. Hope to see your book published one day. I’ve reserved a place for it in our library :)

    Sep 27, 2007 | 12:18 pm


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